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automatically remove old history

  • 26 replies
  • 13 have this problem
  • Last reply by obliviondoll

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Yes, this again.

It USED to exist, and now it doesn't. There's an add-on to provide this functionality for the many, MANY people who want this feature in spite of Mozilla's persistent claims to the contrary. I want this feature, and I can see plenty of evidence in several (closed) questions this topic that I'm not alone.

I've tried using the add-on, and not only is having to navigate to the add-ons page an unacceptable compromise, but it's also refusing to work properly on my computer anyway.

So it would be nice to have a way to restore this functionality which COMES STANDARD WITH ALMOST EVERY OTHER BROWSER.

I use Firefox because I want FULL USER CUSTOMISABILITY, and while I'm still getting many important tools that are missing from other browsers, this is a key feature that I not only want, but EXPECT from a browser with ANY degree of competently-implemented customisation.

The absence of key features like this is starting to frustrate me, and I may end up forced to use an otherwise-inferior browser to get what SHOULD be some of the most basic options.

All Replies (6)

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If you have visited something today it will be in Todays History unless of course you are private browsing or otherwise deleting or not storing History. if that is not happening something is going wrong.

You may need to consider the database could be corrupt, and that may explain why your addon did not work. Hows testing going with test profiles. Consider in the test profile renaming the file places.sqlite that will disable it and a new one will be created from scratch.

  1. Reinstall the addon in that profile.
  2. As a test set the addon to expire after one day
  3. Visit some sites today
  4. Repeat on other days visiting somesites.
  5. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE FIREFOX OPEN AND IDLE IN THAT PROFILE possibly for an hour or so. The addon works to expire history only when Firefox is open and idle, as I mentioned upthread.
  6. Check History content each day
  7. Report back in a few days, is the addon working now ?

Back to your main question. Firefox libraries have a few options to customise views and sorts.

  1. Go into the history library
  2. In the left pane select and so give focus to the required folder i.e. Last 7 Days so that its content displays in the main right hand pane.
  3. Click the view option.
  4. Ensure you have the column Most Recent Visit displayed (an Added column is also available).
  5. ( If you look at Added in History Ignore the fact that the column appears empty.)
  6. Take note of the facts that
    • The column width is adjustable.
    • The column may be moved, so the sort column may be placed adjacent to the Name column
    • The column on which the sort is performed may have an up or down pointing triangle.
    • Click the header space of the selected column (Added or Most recent visit for instance) that ensures the sort is on that column. Click again and the sort order reverses.
    • The library has an option along the top for Views -> Show Columns & for Views -> Sort
  7. Addess Bar
    Reflect on much easier and convenient it usually is to find results in the address bar searches; once as a user you understand its features; taking advantage of the features for tagging, bookmarking, fltering adjustment options, and the innate learning (Thanks to the frecency algorithm <- but rendered much less effective when History is deleted) enabling it to usually suggest what you want either as a pre completing address or from its short dropdown list.
    Also be aware that the library displaying History is a sub section of the larger Library and also has a Bookmarks section. Bookmarks may have many folders and subfolders those also may be resorted on that same added column
  9. Bookmarks Toolbar
    Why not consider making use of that either for the important single bookmarks lined across the top, or for folders of bookmarks to creating custom dropdown lists
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If I visited a site yesterday, and I visit it again today, it's hit-and-miss whether it will show up in today's history. If I visited a site in July, and I visit it again today, it's hit-and-miss whether it will show up in today's history. If I still had my records from June, and I had visited a site back then, it would be hit-and-miss whether it would show up in today's history.

And regardless of whether it does show up today or not, it still shows up in June/July/Last 7 days/This month/whenever it was FIRST accessed, and deleting the entry from when it was FIRST accessed removes all record of that site ever being visited.

And when I try setting the addon, it simply DOESN'T LET ME SET IT UP. No matter how often I navigate to the addons page, select the addon, and change the value from 0 to ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL, it doesn't save. There is no button to save the setting. Clicking away from the text box I entered the number in doesn't make it save. Navigating away from the page doesn't make it save. The next time I go back to addons, it's set to 0 and the addon remains disabled.

Thanks for telling me how to add the "most recent visit" column to my history page. It still doesn't resolve the issue of Firefox NOT ACTUALLY SORTING BY MOST RECENT VISIT. It's set to sort by that condition by default. It doesn't. If I want to find a webpage I visited earlier today, and I visited that page before today, there's a good chance it won't be anywhere in the list of today's history, even with history set to sort by most recent visit. If I went to that site 2 days ago, and also earlier this month, then I probably won't find it in the "last 7 days" portion of the history window either. I'll find it under "This month" just fine, WAY back in the beginning of the month when I FIRST visited the site.

If I visited a site back in June, and was on that page twice a week, every week throughout July, but haven't visited since my failed attempt at using an alternative addon to delete my old history, there will be no entries for that page because Firefox kept the history record linked to the EARLIEST visit to that site, not the most recent. Deleting OLD history is ALSO deleting RECENT history if the same entry occured in the past.

So now, alternative options:

Address bar: Yes, this is what I'm trying to use. It's also what I'm trying to find a way to CLEAN UP so I can use it MORE EFFECTIVELY. If I can quickly and easily remove unwanted entries that haven't been visited for some time, I'll be better able to rely on it having a SHORTER list with ONLY RELEVANT RESULTS. Deleting pages I'm no longer interested in seeing shouldn't harm the ability for it to sort the remaining entries I DO want to keep visiting.

Bookmarks: I use bookmarks (and the about:newtab page) to provide one- and two-click access to pages I consider important and want quick and easy access to. With less important pages, many of which I'm still going to visit regularly, I don't want to have to create a cluttered and messy list of bookmarks that gets in the way of easily finding the pages I want quick and easy access to. There is no way to sort bookmarks that ends up more practical for this particular purpose than a properly-working history system would be.

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ADDRESS BAR What do you mean shorter list ? By default you only see a short list of suggestions. That short list is modified as you type. One to four carefully chosen characters will probably bring up what you need in a many attempts.

Bookmarks affect frecency ranking as does simply manually typing in or pasting in a page address, and actually having History entries to compare and use in the algorithm.

HISTORY Attempting to directly search History is often one of the slowest least effective methods of finding anything with Firefox.

As you correctly point out deleting from the History library is often an inefective method it is time consuming clumsy and pointless in most cases. Using the addon to expire history is more efficient, but rather fruitless, just look at the developers own comments.

Bear in mind

  • If the site or page is not frequently visited
    • It is not affecting much, it is just background information
    • Unless you need to find it even so, which is easier if it is still in the History.
  • If the site or page is frequently visited
    • Then you probably want it to show up easily. Deleting it from History relegates it to not visited and it only then shows up if bookmarked (or in an open tab).
  • If something - the whole site - is not wanted in results including History that may easily be deleted by forgetting about it.

BOOKMARKS TOOLBAR (Full width of window ) If you use dropdown folders of bookmarks nothing needs sorting the bookmarks are simply there to click on or not depending on what you put in.

TEST PROFILE In your test profile did you uninstal and rreinstall the addon if so did the pref Fred mentioned get created ? thatis where the addon stored=s the value,it stores it as soon as it is typed in reload the about:config page and its search to watch it happen. If you have not got the pref you will not have that working addon.

MOST VISITED You also probably have a default Most Visited smartfolder, it may be shown as a folder with a magnifying glass. It is similar to a folder of bookmarks but is actually generated by a database query for most visited pages. hat may be handy sometimes although it does not really have much advantage over the address bar.

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I regularly visit a lot of forums based around similar topics. As such, I end up with many pages that have similar/related content and page headers. I also visit several sites where the page titles don't vary from one page to the next while navigating the site. When I enter 4 letters that relate to a topic, I'll have AT LEAST a dozen results to look through. On some topics, I can type four WORDS and still have a dozen results displayed.


Now here's the important part. You say that if a site isn't regularly visited, it's not affecting much. Therefore, it should be easy for you to understand that it won't affect much to delete it. So why is there no easy option to delete these results without having a significant negative impact on what I WANT to keep?


First off, having the bookmarks bar visible takes up screen space I'd rather not be giving up. Secondly, and more importantly, bookmarking things takes time. To bookmark all the pages I want relatively easy access to, and actually HAVE relatively easy access to them, I would need the entire width of the page with drop-down folders, and in each of them, I'd have the entire height of the page stacked with more folders, and even then I'd need subfolders in some of them to further sort things. By that point, it's a wasted effort trying to save time by using the bookmark bar, AND it's a wasted effort creating bookmarks for all those pages in the first place.

I can manage MOST things just fine from the address bar with its intelligent features. The only time it becomes a problem is when I decide to try and delete old records I don't want any more and Firefox lumps in a whole bunch of things that ARE important with them so I can't do that in an efficient manner.

I understand that Firefox is meant to delete things for you intelligently and not clog up your system too much, but I would like SOME measure of CONTROL over how much data is saved and over what time period. At present, I don't have that.


With the addon not installed, there is no entry relating to the addon. With the addon installed, there is the entry I've previously mentioned which relates to the addon, confirming that it's installed but disabled. No matter how many times I uninstall and reinstall the addon, or which profile I have it installed on, this doesn't change. And no matter how many times I change the number entered on the addon page, it never saves that change, it never creates the entry that should be there when the addon is active, and it never activates with the setting I entered.


The only magnifying glasses I can find are the ones on folder icons for "recently bookmarked" and "recent tags" in the bookmarks menu, the search button in the searchbar at the top of my screen, and the "find" button in the customisable menu I have as a drop-down in the top right corner of the Firefox window. As you've said, this isn't something which offers any real benefits to me anyway, so if I did have it, there's a good chance I'd get rid of it anyway in favour of using the address bar.

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All I am trying to say with History is that if you delete it you are deleting important data. You are reducing the sample size and variability The frecency is amongst other factors a combination of how frequent and how recent the page visits are. You could make address bar results worse not better.

If you have only 14 days history everything is relatively recent and in the top two categories. You are preventing the address bar from learning what is old. You are also skewing the data on what is frequently visited.

If you have months of data it may make it easier to distinguish a page as important rather than if you only have a few days data.

If you wish to improve hits also use tags and bookmarks. You can use single letter tags if it helps. You can filter for just tagged bookmarks.

As for the Addon not working, you could as I said before try the addons site to see if they can help or you could try again looking for some alternative addon. Not really much I can say if the addon does not work. You have tried a new profile and say that does not help.

With some of your site use maybe the best method is to use the sites own features to help find the pages you need or bookmark them in Firefox and search from the address bar for only bookmarked pages.

I know each of us repeats things but pleading for changes or enhancements to FIrefox in this forum is not going to change developer's opinion. It's not going to be even seen by those involved in making those decisions.

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I had noticed you using the term "frecency" enough to look it up for myself already. It was an interesting read, but ultimately doesn't make as much of a difference FOR ME as being able to remove old and unused entries consistently WITHOUT having the records I want to keep removed with them.

It will identify the old entries and preferentially put more recent entries ahead of them. But if there AREN'T any old entries to worry about, it won't NEED to filter them out.

The official reason why Firefox no longer has the feature I want (it USED TO) is because Firefox's ability to auto-sort your history in address bar searches combined with its ability to delete files automatically based on how much your system can handle mean that those features aren't needed.

I don't want it because my system needs it. I don't want it because my computer is being pushed past its limits. I want it because *I* want it and because it helps *ME* to have *MY* system operating and laid out the way *I* want it. It isn't about the capabilities of my computer, it's about MY PERSONAL PREFERENCES NOT BEING PROVIDED FOR. When one of the biggest selling points for Firefox has always been the ability to personalise my experience, and I'm LOSING that ability in recent versions in favour of automated features that AREN'T giving me what I want to see, that's a problem.

I understand that you're trying to help, and I appreciate it. I'm not upset with the occasional repetition of information, because I can see the relevance of the points you're making - at least some of the time. I feel like I'm being forced to repeat my own points in response at times, but I get that this isn't a standard situation that everyone faces (even though it's not unique to me).

I also understand that this (probably) won't be seen by the developers. At the time I created this question, though, I hadn't been able to find any other method of contacting ANYONE regarding the issue. As such, I figured it was worth trying in the hope that someone from Mozilla might actually see the question and consider resolving the issue properly. I still believe there's a chance of this question being seen by someone who can help (whether from Mozilla or not), and I'm going to keep working with the hope that a new addon will show up with the feature(s) I'm looking for if the issue doesn't get resolved in a near-future update.

I've tried looking for addons. There are two options that are relevant enough to consider trying. One is the frequently-recommended "Expire history by days" addon, which simply never activates for whatever reason. The other deletes history entries by OLDEST date visited, removing pages I no longer want, but taking MANY pages I DO still want with them. No other addon I've been able to find is described as providing anything resembling the features I'm looking for. If I'm missing something, I'd love for someone to share it here, but I have given it a good effort in trying to find at least that much of a solution while Firefox is in its current state.

I have since been directed to the proper feedback page to use for suggestions to the developers. Unfortunately, because they currently seem quite happy to limit user control in favour of having Firefox automatically personalise itself based on their FREQUENTLY INACCURATE ASSUMPTIONS about people's preferences and the reasons for them, I'm not willing to let this question close until I can find a working solution to the problem. If it's not coming from Mozilla, this means a new addon (or two) that fills my needs. As I've already mentioned though, the ideal solution would be one I can access from the same page as the rest of the functions relating to my Firefox history settings, rather than requiring me to go into the addons page to change settings which I STILL believe should be standard features in ANY browser (and which USED TO BE STANDARD IN FIREFOX, and are STILL standard in EVERY OTHER BROWSER EVER).

Modified by obliviondoll

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